Peter Hoskin

Harman holds her own at PMQs

Harman holds her own at PMQs
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A bit of a damp squib, really.  Harman held her own against those PMQs titans that are Hague and Cable. And all my anticipatory drooling was for nought.

Hague opened by congratulating Harman on being the first female Labour MP to lead the House at PMQs.  An invite for Harman’s only cringeworthy moment, as she inquired why Theresa May wasn’t opposing her. She suddenly came over all Oprah-esque – handing out “sisterly advice” and asking whether Tory women are to be “seen but not heard”.

The patented Hague Joke soon followed, and it was a good one. If Harman dons the appropriate attire for all occasions – a stab-vest when touring the mean streets of London; a hard hat on a building site – does she dress as a clown for Cabinet meetings? But she was equal to it – responding that she wouldn’t take fashion advice from Hague.  A dig at his baseball-capped past

She repeats the “I won’t take lectures from you” approach for Hague’s next question. What of the millions of low income earners who’ll be worse off after the after the 10p tax band gets eradicated this weekend?  “I won’t take lectures from someone who opposed the minimum wage”. Not great, but it served its purpose for Harman. Hague was right to make the attack, though – and the Government will have to come up with a better response once all those low income earners start to feel the pinch.   

Despite the cheers as he stood up, Cable’s attack was scuppered from the start. He led with a question on the Royal Family, which was immediately overruled by the Speaker. A subsequent question just enabled Harman to parrot the same old line about Labour and “economic stability”. Very disappointing.

The questions from the backbenches were either unchallenging (“Will you join me in condoning…?”) or were batted away with promises to forward it to the Prime Minister or the Chancellor. Maybe she just didn’t have the stomach to dish out the Brownies. Nonetheless, still a relief when it was all over.

In the end, then, a score draw between Harman and Hague, with Cable left out of the running. But as CoffeeHouser Kevyn Bodman rightly points out, that leaves Harman as the victor.